Gov. Jared Polis on Friday signed executive orders that will make it easier to collect signatures for ballot measures, handing a significant win to organizers who have been stunted in their efforts by the pandemic.

The orders authorize the secretary of state to create temporary rules so signatures for ballot issues can be collected by mail or email. Previously, collecting signatures meant a petition circulator would have to do this in person.

“This Executive Order protects Coloradans’ constitutional right to shape their government through the initiative and referendum processes without risking their health or the health of others,” Polis wrote.

The governor also signed an order allowing unaffiliated and independent candidates to gather signatures via mail or email.

The fate of several major ballot measures — including paid family leave — have been hanging in the balance, given the constraints of getting signatures during stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures.

The urgency was particularly acute because it’s a presidential year, which brings the highest turnout, especially among unaffiliated and Democratic voters.

Changing the rules so close to an election has been a touchy subject during the past several weeks, with some saying it was necessary during this unprecedented time and others arguing it could open a Pandora’s box.

Shortly after Polis announced the orders Saturday, the Denver Chamber of Commerce blasted out a news release, saying the executive order is “in violation of our constitution.”

“Only we, the voters of Colorado, can amend our state’s constitution and no individual elected official or office can change what we as citizens decide, even during challenging times,” Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

She added that rural and older Coloradans without the right technology could be left out by the order, and said the fact that two measures had already received enough signatures to make the November ballot proves people could still do it the way it’s always been done.

“There are always going to be risks and challenges with filing ballot issues late,” Brough wrote, “and we can’t compromise our constitution simply because proponents waited to file and begin gathering signatures.”

On the other side, the governor’s actions were applauded by a coalition of health and child advocacy groups spearheading an initiative that would increase taxes on tobacco and nicotine products.

“Governor Polis has done the right thing by giving measures already approved through the Title Board the opportunity to both protect public health and make it on the November ballot in the midst of this pandemic,” Jake Williams, executive director of Healthier Colorado, said in a news release. “Coloradans place a high value on their right to directly vote on major issues, and the Governor’s announcement today will help keep this critical part of our democratic process alive.”